Libby Black was built in 1966 and Ellena Hicks in 1967. They were paired with bulk barges Barbara Vaught and Thelma Collins to carry coal to parent company TECO Energy's generating station in Tampa Bay. They were equipped with an elevated pilot house and were powered with two GM EMDs totaling 4300 bhp driving twin open screws.
Ellena Hicks works her way out of Tampa harbour in Gulf Coast Transit colours.
Gulf Coast Transit was eventually renamed Teco Transit, and when the company converted its Tampa station to natural gas the tugs were no longer needed. They were sold in 2003 to McAllister Towing and Transportation of New York. Libby Black became Katie G. McAllister and Ellena Hicks became Colleen McAllister. The barges were scrapped.
The bulk carrier barge Thelma Collins has since been scrapped.
Now the pair have been purchased by Port City Marine Services of Muskegon, MI and sailed from New York December 4, with Katie G. McAllister towing Colleen McAllister. With cooperative weather the two should make it through the St.Lawrence Seaway before it closes for the winter.
Marcon Interrnational brokered the sale and according to their website the new owners plan to install Bludwoth connectors to the tugs, which were built for shallow notch and face wire work, but usually towed the barges at sea.
Port City bought the Michaela McAllister a sister to the present two, built in 1967 as Betty Culbreath, and renamed it Prentiss Brown in 2009. Port City Marine is associated with Sand Products Corp of Muskegon, MI which operates tugs and barges in the aggregates and cement trade on the Great Lakes.
Michaela McAllister upbound on the St.Lawrence River towing the barge Atlantic Trader.
As a footnote to the Gulf Coast tugs and barges, which were named for the wives of directors of Teco. I wonder if there was any jealousy over whether you had a tug named after you or a barge. Just a thought.